Guidelines for Reviewing Qualiatative Reports and Grant Applications

Below we offer some guiding principles for those who are evaluating a manuscript or grant application that involves qualitative research.  These principles emerge from our own experience as well as our reading of the literature.  Supporting materials can be found by following the links we identify below. 

Reviewers need to recognize:

  • Qualitative research does not emerge from a single tradition, but from a range of different traditions
  • Different qualitative traditions have different standards of excellence with regard to qualitative research.  It is impossible and inappropriate to identify one set of criteria that can be used to evaluate all qualitative research
  • Reviewers should use evaluative criteria that match-up with the method and analytic approach the author uses or proposes to use.  When evaluating a phenomenological study, use the criteria of good phenomenological research to evaluate the study design and findings
  • Granting agencies might consider asking applicants proposing to do qualitative research to provide relevant published criteria that reviewers can consider using when evaluating their proposal

In addition to the guidelines we discuss below, we have identified two sets of guidelines that have been created for authors and reviewers of qualitative research. 

Click here for Crabtree and Miller's guidelines

Click here for Malterud's guidelines

In our review of the literature we found the following resources were highly cited by other authors and very useful.  The following articles can be found in an issue of Qualitative Health Research dedicated to this subject.

Penrod, J. (2003). "Getting funded: writing a successful small-project proposal." Qualitative Health Research 13(6), 821-832.

Sandelowski, M. & Barroso, J. (2003). "Writing the proposal for a qualitative research methodology project." Qualitative Health Research 13(6), 781-820.

Morse, JM. (2003). "A Review Committee's Guide to Evaluating Qualitative Proposal." Qualitative Health Research 13(6), 833-851.

Morse's (2003) article is particularly useful for those who are preparing or evaluating a grant proposal that involves qualitative data and research. 

Below we combine insights from Morse's article and NIH criteria for evaluting research grant applications (10/12/04) to propose a set of evaluative criteria for evaluating qualitative research grants. 

To access the information in each area, click on the highlighted text.

Guidelines for Evaluating Qualitative Grant Applications